PMPML in dire straits
Rising fuel costs and excessive subsidies cause the city's public transport undertaking to run into losses worth crores of rupees
A highly-placed source at the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mandal (PMPML) revealed that the city’s public transport undertaking is making profits on only five routes out of the total 369 operated routes. All other routes are being operated at huge losses.
A top official revealed on condition of anonymity, “Only on five routes out of the 369 operate routes is the revenue per kilometer is more than the running cost per kilometer. Every other route runs at a loss of Rs 9.58 per kilometer every day.” The PMPML had recently hiked fares earlier this year in March with a minimum fare of five rupees.
The official further explained, “Around 51 percent of PMPML’s revenue is spent on salaries of employees and other establishment costs. Diesel and CNG prices have shot up drastically in last few months causing more losses.” He candidly admitted that in order to overcome these losses and sustain the service, the PMPML needed at least Rs 50 crore in funds from the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.
The PMPML reported a loss of Rs 62.63 crore in the previous fiscal year, out of which Rs 56 crore were for free passes and concessions to 11 different categories of people including school students, policemen, freedom fighters, PMPML staff and many more. According to the official, a refund of this amount along with some additional measures will turn it into a profit-making entity.
However, citizens and commuter group have a different take on the issue. Jugal Rathi, convener of PMPML Pravasi Manch, an activist commuter group said, “The PMPML recently approved a conversion of the fare structure to a kilometer-based structure. Due to this, fares for short distances became very high, discourages commuters from using buses. This has resulted in more losses.” Furthermore, according to Rathi, most of the PMPML buses, especially the ones on contract, do not halt at important bus stops, thereby missing out on many commuters.
The group feels that the PMPML should keep passengers at the centre of their policy making. “They should rationalise their routes and monitor their operational efficiency,” said Rathi.